September/October 2020

Leadership Letter
The Journey Towards Equity

By Thomas E. Bertrand


The Illinois Association of School Boards recognizes that everyone benefits when all students have access to the educational resources and rigor they need, in all times and circumstances. In light of its mission and vision, IASB undertakes equity work with urgency, to provide its members with resources to develop their competence and confidence in support of educational equity.

School districts undertaking an equity journey do so, within their own mission, vision, and goals, to ensure the best possible education can be realized by and for all students, to carry out systemic change, address the opportunity gap in educational outcomes, and to create inclusive learning environments. School board members are responsible for the “equitable and quality education of every student in the school district” and must act accordingly in their collective work as a board of education to foster excellence for every student.

In recent months member school boards have contacted IASB to request the Association provide the board with an Equity Policy.

While IASB staff can provide a board with sample policies related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we believe that providing a policy template can actually be an impediment to boards of education conducting thoughtful, deep conversations around issues of race, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

IASB recognizes that everyone benefits when all students have access to the educational resources and rigor they need, in all times and circumstances. The pursuit of equity, opportunity, and excellence for every child starts with a deep conversation that IASB staff can assist with. The IASB workshop, Equity: An Education Imperative, is designed to support boards in this work and to pave the way for the development of a shared definition of “equity.” Boards should also engage community stakeholders to inform the development of a local equity policy.

School board members share a collective responsibility for determining the strategic priorities of the district that should also reflect a commitment to lead on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion and for monitoring whether priorities are met.

IASB stands ready to assist school boards along the journey towards equity. Please reach out to your Field Services Director at any time and to utilize resources on the equity section of the IASB website.
 
Thomas E. Bertrand, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Boards. Resources associated with this column can be accessed via bit.ly/SO20JRes.